Having a business in the Sunshine State means benefiting from access to capital, a low tax burden, and continuing economic growth. It’s an exciting time to be opening a small business, and you can ensure your doors open on time with this guide.
Create a Business Plan
You may have a rock-solid idea for your new company. However, unless you have a business plan, you won’t know where your venture is going. Although it will contain a lot of detail about every aspect of your business, going in steps is the best way to get your business plan done. Include the following main sections in your business plan:
- Executive Summary – Tells the reader about your company in brief and should include your mission statement, as well as basic team, employee, and location information.
- Company Description – Reveals more detailed information about the kinds of problems your company will solve, as well as experts you may have access to and other information that gives your company a competitive advantage.
- Market Analysis – Provides details about the research you’ve conducted into your market and your competition and reveals how you can solve problems and do a better job of it than your competitors.
- Your Product or Service – Goes into details about your offering, including any research and development, as well as how what you’re selling will benefit customers.
- Sales and Marketing – Will go into detail about your plans for customer attraction and retention and include a description of the sales process, as well as your strategies for sales and marketing.
Once your plan is complete, your next step is to decide on a business structure.
Choose a Business Structure
The four main types of business structure are the partnership, LLC, sole proprietorship, and corporation.
The partnership sees all partners contributing to the business in the form of property or money. This entity consists of two or more individuals who share the business’s profits and losses.
The LLC or limited liability structure offers flexibility in terms of taxes, as you can be taxed as any entity. This option also offers corporation-level protection.
The sole proprietorship is the entity to choose if you don’t want to incorporate or own the business with anyone else. This structure doesn’t distinguish between the owner and the business.
The corporation structure is completely separate from its owners in every way. Business transactions, tax payments, and contracts can be completed, made, and entered into under the corporation itself.
Whatever the structure you’ve chosen, the next step is to register the business with the Department of Revenue, as well as the IRS. If you’ve chosen to start a business in Florida as a corporation or under a fictitious name as a sole proprietor, you’ll need to register with the Department of state.
Choose and Register a Business Name
The name registration requirements for Florida businesses depend on their structure. Sole proprietors can do business under their first and last name without having to file it. If you prefer to operate under a fictitious name, you’ll have to register the business by filing a DBA or “doing business as” with the state.
If your business is a partnership, LLC, or corporation, then you’ll have to choose a unique name. This can be accomplished by first checking for availability, and then registering it with the Secretary of State.
Obtain a Business License and Seller’s Permit
A general Florida business license is required to conduct business legally in most counties. You’ll also need to obtain a Florida seller’s permit. This permit allows you to collect taxes on the products and services you sell, and it is required if your business is involved in the repair, retail sale, or wholesaling of products.
The seller’s permit is required for businesses collecting sales tax, regardless of the business entity they are operating under.
Register with the FDOR
After you’ve obtained your seller’s permit and business license, you’ll have to register with Florida’s Department of Revenue. This is required so that you can pay sales & use or corporate income tax, amounts varying according to the amount of sales tax you collect in a reporting period.
Get an Employer Identification Number
If you registered your business as a partnership or corporation, you’ll need to get your EIN or employer identification number. This number not only allows you to open a bank account for your business but helps you establish business credit and apply for needed permits and licenses. It’ll also make it easier for you to hire new employees.
Although the EIN isn’t required in all circumstances, it’s important to note that the majority of banks will require you to have one if you plan to open a line of credit or savings account, or if you will be applying for a business loan.
Obtain Industry Licenses and Other Permits
In addition to your business license and seller’s permit, you may require other industry licenses and permits. Examples of such permits can include those for massage therapy, cosmetology, physical therapy, or interior design.
Protect Your Business and Personal Assets
After you’ve obtained the necessary licenses and permits, another important step to opening a small business is to protect your assets. You’ll also want to make it easier to complete accounting and file taxes for your business.
Opening a business bank account and getting a credit card will keep your business and personal assets and income separate. Using an EIN for this purpose will completely separate your business finances from personal.
A business credit card will also establish separation between yourself and your business, as well as help you build the credit you’ll need for raising capital in future.
If your business is an LLC, you’ll want to be sure you’ve designated a representative to sign all documents related to your business bank accounts and credit cards. Doing so will help to separate any liability your LLC incurs from your personal liability.
Build Your Brand and Market Your Business
Branding is one of the most important tasks you’ll accomplish as a small business owner. This process begins with a business logo design, followed by your website. Unless you have experience in this area, it can be a great idea to invest in professional assistance for logo and website design. Your business logo should:
- Reflect your company mission or nature of your business.
- Be something that will make a lasting and positive impression.
- Differentiate you from your direct competitors.
As your business grows and evolves, you may need to re-evaluate the effectiveness or suitability of your logo and redesign it.
Marketing your business will be a continual process that requires you to not only know who your target market is but where they can be found. Next, you’ll have to decide on a marketing strategy. Here, too, it can help to have professional expertise to ensure that the right and most effective strategies are chosen.
Just as with your logo, your marketing strategy may need to evolve with your business. You’ll also have to be willing to try new strategies as others lose their effectiveness. It’s all about flexibility.
Now that you know how to start a business in Florida, it’s time to apply for licensing and permits, which can be a confusing process. Plus, missing information can delay your opening by weeks. But FastFilings can help. We check all applications before expediting your order directly from Florida agencies. Visit us online to learn more.